Five months ago President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and nominated Judge
Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Republicans,
including Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson have refused to give the President’s nominee a
committee hearing and up or down vote on the floor of the Senate.
Judge Garland is among the most qualified, experienced nominees in American history, and
was confirmed with broad Republican support by the Senate in 2013. One of the leading
Republicans in the Senate, Orrin Hatch from Utah, said that Garland would be a “consensus
nominee” and that there was “no question” he would be confirmed by the Senate. That was
before Obama nominated him.
As soon as President Obama made the nomination Republican Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell declared that he would not consider Garland and would refuse to allow the Senate to
fulfill their Constitutional duty. Despite the fact that the President had done his job, Senators like
Ron Johnson would refuse to do theirs.
It has now been nearly 150 days since Garland was nominated, making this the longest
obstruction of a nominee in history. Before Garland, the longest period of time between
nomination by the President and approval by the Senate was 139 days. There is no precedent
for such obstruction of a President doing their job in American history.
The result of the ongoing Republican obstruction is a gridlocked Supreme Court which has been
unable to reach a decision on cases affecting millions of Americans. “Justice delayed is justice
denied” has long been a staple of the American system of government. Sadly, justice is being
delayed when the judicial branch of our government is not at full strength, it cannot function as
Some Republicans, including Senator Mark Kirk from neighboring Illinois, have attempted to
stand up to their Party leadership and call for action on the nomination. Wisconsin Senator Ron
Johnson is not one of them. Johnson even revealed that partisan politics were the motivating
factor behind the obstruction, telling one Wisconsin radio station that of course Republicans
would have considered a nominee for the Supreme Court if it had been made by a Republican
Throughout history, party politics have never been more important than the highest court on the
land, until now. Republicans are flat out refusing to fulfill their obligations under the Constitution
by doing their job. When workers in Milwaukee don’t do their job, they get fired, it’s just that
simple. The same standard should exist for elected officials who are paid with our hard earned
President Obama has done one of the jobs we expected to do when we re-hired him in 2012.
Republicans should drop their unprecedented obstruction and do their job too.